• Short Summary

    - INTRO: New evidence from the United States links birth defects with powerful defoliants -- like
    Agent Orange which was used during the Vietnam War.

  • Description

    - INTRO: New evidence from the United States links birth defects with powerful defoliants -- like
    Agent Orange which was used during the Vietnam War. But this news cannot help
    the children of those Vietnamese affected by the chemicals dropped on them by
    the U.S. air force. Many have sustained significant malformations and will
    suffer for the rest of their lives.

    -------------------------------------------- Twenty-one years after the Vietnam
    War ended hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam are still suffering from
    injuries caused by the defoliants dropped on their parents by the United States

    New studies in the United States confirm the link between exposure to the
    defoliant called Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and a range of cancers and
    other health problems.

    Veterans in the United States, Korea and other countries have for years reported
    illnesses and symptoms which they say are a direct result of the use of those
    powerful chemicals.

    But it is the children who have now become the victims of U.S.

    wartime policy. In Vietnam they estimate 200 to 300 thousand children are

    Thirteen-year-old Thoa never knew the war, but her parents did.

    Like many thousands of others -- and not all in Vietnam -- she bears its
    consequences every day.

    "My hands hurt. The skin falls off when it is touched," she said.

    Thoa was speaking at the opening of a computer school at Hanoi's so-called Peace
    village -- a centre for Agent Orange victims just outside the Vietnamese

    While Thoa is physically scarred others are more seriously affected and many
    mentally retarded. For the doctors who run this centre the evidence speaks for

    "The relationship between defoliants and birth defects in Vietnamese children is
    very complicated," said Dr Huyen, director of the centre.

    "But it has strongly affected the second generation, the children of war
    veterans." Huyen added.

    During the Indochinese conflict, the United States dumped over 19 million tonnes
    (tons) of the powerful defoliant over vast tracts of southern Vietnam. As the
    work was controversial the aircraft bore South Vietnamese markings and carried a
    South Vietnamese observer on each mission.

    The intention was to make it harder for infiltrators from communist North
    Vietnam to hide. But there was soon evidence that defoliation did not slow the
    North Vietnamese and Vietcong war effort while causing widespread damage to
    living creatures and the environment.

    Scientists in Vietnam are still dealing with the consequences.

    "It's a humanitarian matter," said Professor Hoang Dinh Cau at a Hanoi research

    "We are trying to help more than 200 to 300 thousand children who are chemical
    war victims," he added.

    For the children of the Hanoi Peace village busy making toys to help earn a
    livelihood, there was little comfort in news from the United States of new
    evidence of links between agent orange and birth defects.

    Vietnam has no money to do research to discover any treatment that might help,
    so thousands of young Vietnamese will continue to fight their own battle of the
    Vietnam War more than two decades after it ended.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
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